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Junior Brianna Shaw netted two goals, including the go-ahead score late in the game, when the Hornets’ field hockey squad pulled off a 3-2 win versus Amity in the SCC Tournament semifinals. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
Senior Kosta Gionteris scored the game-winning goal in overtime to lift the Branford boys’ soccer team to a 1-0 win against Cheshire in the semifinals of the SCC Tournament on Oct. 28. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
Senior Andrew DeBenedictis ran a great race in his final time on the trails as a member of the Branford boys’ cross country squad at last week’s Class MM State Championship. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
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After taking a loss to Cheshire in its regular-season finale, the Branford field hockey team opened up postseason play by claiming a 3-2 victory versus Amity in the quarterfinal round of the SCC Tournament last week. The Hornets will get another crack at Cheshire when they face the Rams in the SCC semifinals.
Branford hosted Cheshire for its last game of the regular season and dropped a 2-0 decision on Oct. 22. The Hornets finished the regular season with a record of 8-5-2-1.
Then on Oct. 26, Branford began the SCC Tournament as the No. 5 seed and rallied for a 3-2 win at No. 4 seed Amity in a quarterfinal game. Branford trailed 1-0 at halftime and then fell behind 2-0 when Amity scored a goal just 28 seconds into the second half. However, the Hornets stormed back by scoring the last three goals of the game to get the win. First, Brianna Shaw scored on an assist from fellow junior Maggie Martin to make it 2-1 with 17:53 to play in the game. About four minutes later, Martin sent one into the back of the cage to tie the game at 2-2. With 5:22 left in the contest, Shaw scored her second goal of the day on another assist by Martin to give the Hornets a 3-2 advantage. Branford outshot Amity 10-7 and saw junior goalie Gianna Messina make five saves. Head Coach Pete Frye said that Branford received huge contributions from seniors Liante Claude and Carly Shea, juniors Karly King, Alexis Pepe, Madison Acquarulo, and Hailey Brunner; sophomore Jocelyn Smestad, and freshman Julia McHenry. Branford had previously taken a 4-3 home loss in overtime against Amity during the regular season.
The Hornets, who are 9-5-2-1 overall, will play at No. 1 seed Cheshire in the SCC Tournament semifinals at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30. With a win, Branford would face the winner of No. 2 seed Guilford and No. 3 Hand in the SCC final at Guilford High School at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3. Following SCCs, Branford will compete in the Class M State Tournament that gets underway on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
After winning its last two games of the regular season, Branford began the postseason by earning a 1-0 overtime victory versus Cheshire in the quarterfinals of the SCC Tournament last week. The Hornets have an overall record of 12-3-2 as they get ready for their semifinal game against Xavier.
On Oct. 24, Branford notched a 5-2 home win over Career-Hillhouse. The Hornets scored five goals in the first half on their way to the win. Sophomore Ralf Ciarleglio scored two goals and had an assist, while senior Marzio Mastroianni scored a goal to go with two assists. Fellow senior Ben DeMaio recorded a goal with an assist, senior Derek Tratnyek scored a goal, and senior Kosta Gionteris added a goal for Head Coach Paul Hunter’s club.
The following day, the Hornets hosted Law and prevailed 4-1 in their regular-season finale. Branford held a 2-1 lead at halftime and then put the game away by scoring a pair of goals in the second half. Mastroianni scored two goals, DeMaio had a goal and an assist, and sophomore Matt Cordero handed out two assists for the Hornets, who went 11-3-2 for the regular season. Senior Juan Leon-Munoz had a goal, while sophomore Din Durmic contributed an assist.
Then on Oct. 28, Branford opened the SCC Tournament as the No. 5 seed and notched a 1-0 home win in overtime against No. 4 seed Cheshire in the quarterfinal round. Kosta Gionteris headed home the winning goal on an assist from DeMaio off a corner kick just 53 seconds into the OT session.
The Hornets will play at top-seeded Xavier in a semifinal contest at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30. With a win, Branford would face the winner of Fairfield Prep and Shelton for the SCC title at West Haven High School on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. Following SCCs, the Hornets will be competing in the Class L State Tournament that begins on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
The Hornets concluded their campaign by earning a 5-1 win over Lyman Hall last week. Branford finished with a record of 5-10-1 on the year.
Branford began last week by taking a 4-3 loss in Hamden on Oct. 22. Head Coach Jen Kohut said that junior Sydney Panczak played well in the back for Branford, while freshman goalie Macey Girard made some key saves in net.
Two days later, Branford was on the road to face Lyman Hall and came away with a 5-1 victory. Five different Hornets found the back of the net for Branford as the Hornets went ahead early and never looked back. Melissa Beatty played a great game that saw the senior captain score a goal for Branford. Girard made a few vital saves to help the Hornets secure the victory.
Branford traveled to Woodbridge to square off against SCC Tier 2 opponent Amity for a road game on Oct. 26. The Hornets defeated the Spartans by the final score of 28-17 to improve their record to 5-2 on the season.
Junior quarterback Sean Kelly tossed three touchdown passes and ran for a TD to help Branford post its road victory. The Hornets’ defense picked off Amity’s quarterback three times and also recovered a fumble by the Spartans in the win.
Trailing 3-0 in the second quarter, Branford scored three touchdowns before halftime to take a 20-3 lead. Kelly threw a 26-yard TD pass to senior Chris Bouton to put the Hornets ahead with 5:17 to play in the second quarter. Sophomore Justin Osler kicked the extra point for a 7-3 advantage. On Amity’s next drive, senior Rob Lionetti intercepted the Spartans’ QB to give Branford good field position. The Hornets capitalized on a 5-yard touchdown rush by Kelly, after which Osler’s extra point made it 14-3 with 1:47 left to play before the break. On Branford’s final drive of the half, Kelly found sophomore Kamryn Holmes on an 18-yard scoring strike to give the Hornets a 20-3 advantage entering intermission.
In the second half, Amity (4-3) went on drive that finished with a 1-yard TD run to cut the deficit to 20-10 with seven minutes left in the third. Unfazed, Branford responded by going on a drive that saw Kelly throw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Lionetti with 1:51 remaining in the frame. Kelly followed by tossing the 2-point conversion to Holmes to extend the lead to 28-10. Amity scored the last TD of the night on a 2-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter for the 28-17 final.
Kelly rushed 26 times for 106 yards and also completed 10 passes for 173 yards in the victory. Sophomore Mekhi Barnette had three receptions for 77 yards, fellow junior Aiden MacNeil caught three passes for 33 yards, and Bouton had two catches for 40 yards.
On defense, Lionetti, MacNeil, and Holmes all grabbed an interception for Branford, while senior captain Jackson Seward forced a fumble that was recovered by Osler. Seward, Ian MacDonald, and fellow Spencer Landsbach each recorded a sack in the win. Seward led the team with nine tackles on the night, while Osler and Bouton had eight tackles apiece.
Following a bye week, the Branford will face Sheehan on the road for an SCC Tier 3 tilt at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 19.
Branford took defeats in its last three matches of the 2018 season and finished with a record of 5-15 for the year.
On Oct. 22, the Hornets hosted East Haven and dropped a 3-0 decision. The next day, Branford lost a 3-0 road match versus Law. Then on Oct. 25, the Hornets took a 3-0 loss at Guilford in their regular-season finale.
Girls’ Swimming and Diving
Branford will begin the postseason when the Hornets swim at the SCC Championship at Southern Connecticut State University at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1. After that, the Hornets will compete in states, beginning with the Class M Diving State Championship at Bulkeley High School at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7. The Class M Swimming Trials are at East Hartford at 5:55 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, and the Class M Swimming State Championship takes place at Wesleyan University on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.
Girls’ Cross Country
Freshman Bella Finta recorded a 40th-place finish for the Hornets at the Class MM State Championship at Wickham Park in Manchester on Oct. 26. Branford finished in 15th place among 21 clubs at the state meet.
Finta crossed the finish line with a time of 22 minutes and 1 second to finish 40th in a field of 150 runners for the 5K in states. Senior teammate Kacey Gilman came in 57th place by running a time of 22:35 for Branford. Freshman Isla Lionetti placed 73rd (23:16), junior Juli Dillon took 109th place (25:06), and senior Khusbu Shrestha finished in 117th (26:11). Senior Carolina Jana placed 128th (27:21), and junior Abigail Pawlowicz finished in 129th place (27:25). Collectively, the Hornets’ runners finished with a total team time that was 20 minutes faster than last year’s squad.
Boys’ Cross Country
Seniors Matt Daley and Andrew DeBenedictis led the pack for Branford at last week’s Class MM State Championship. The Hornets finished in 15th place out of 24 teams in the meet.
Daley ran a time of 18:41 to take 61st place, while DeBenedictis finished 70th with a time of 18:49 in a competition that featured 171 runners. Head Coach Kevin Connell said that DeBenedicits ran the best race of his career in his final high-school race at the state meet. DeBenedictis posted a time that was a minute and a half faster than when he ran on the same course at the Wickham Invitational earlier in the year.
Additionally at states, freshman Patrick Zdunek finished 90th (19:27), sophomore Brennan Hynes took 93rd place (19:29), and freshman Wyatt Reynolds came in 102nd place (19:51) for the Hornets. Andrew Betzig placed 104th (19:52), while fellow junior Chris Borst finished in 165th place (23:54).
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